3 min read

NHL Taps Into Australia’s Sports Frenzy with Upcoming Preseason Games


Former Los Angeles Kings captain, Dustin Brown, and ex-Arizona Coyotes player, Darcy Hordichuk are leading the charge to bring NHL action to Aussie fans. The Los Angeles Kings and Arizona Coyotes are prepping to make history by playing two preseason games at Rod Laver Arena on September 23-24 as they become the inaugural NHL teams to showcase their skills in the southern hemisphere through the NHL Global Series.

The series organised by event promoters TEG Sport and Left Field Live with the support of the Victorian Government aims to capitalise on the increasing popularity of the NHL in Australia. For almost a decade, the NHL have been observing a consistent increase in viewership patterns on ESPN Australia, user engagement metrics on the NHL App, and content consumption on their social media platforms. With over 21,000 tickets already sold, the NHL is expecting both games to be a sellout.

Brown and Hordichuk were taken aback by the fervor and warmth they received in April this year while promoting the NHL in Australia. Reflecting on his interactions, Brown remarked, “They’re just so passionate about sports here.” Echoing this sentiment, Hordichuk added, “Meeting people who might not even know the intricacies of the game but are still pumped up about it was incredible. I felt like a rock star.”

Brown and Hordichuk see this endeavor as more than just a couple of games. They envision it as a catalyst to introduce NHL to a wider audience and spark greater interest among the youth. Hordichuk commented, “NHL is all about broadening its horizons. Seeing young Aussies getting into hockey, this is just the kind of push we need.” Even though Australia has a limited number of indoor rinks, the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) has been active since 2000. Additionally, youth hockey clinics have been scheduled as part of the NHL’s Global Series programming. This strategy aims to tap into Australia’s youth segment, giving them exposure to the sport and potentially increasing participation.

The NHL’s global strategy comprises three focal areas: facilitating hockey development (inclusive of youth coaching and officiating), grassroots programming (with initiatives like NHL Street targeting younger audiences), and fan engagement (with events like the NHL Global Fan Tour). The emphasis is on crafting a tailored approach for each market. While European markets might require brand reinforcement and excitement generation, in places like Australia, the objective is more rooted in grassroots development and broadening participation.

As Melbourne gears up to be the epicenter of these iconic preseason matches, there’s also buzz about the Melbourne and Carlton AFL semi-final at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground. The forthcoming arrival of the Kings and Coyotes promises to add to the city’s electric sports environment.

Tickets remain available for next weekend’s Global Series games, fans can also seize the opportunity to purchase tickets to watch the Kings and Coyotes’ Open practices on Friday, September 22, from 10am to 1pm.

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